Launching the Innovation

In parallel with the technical problem solving associated with developing an innovation there is also a set of activities associated with preparing the market into which it will be launched. Whether this market is a group of retail consumers or a set of internal users of a new process, the same requirements exist for developing and preparing this market for launch, since it is only when the target market makes the decision to adopt the innovation that the whole innovation process is completed. The process is completed . The process is again one of sequentially collecting information. Solving problems and focusing efforts towards a final launch. In particular it involves collecting information on actual or anticipated customer needs and feeding this into the product development process whilst simultaneously preparing the marketplaces and marketing for the new product . It is essential throughout this process that dialogue is maintained with other functions involved in the development process, and that the process of developments is staged via a series of gates which control progress and resources commitment.

Key aspect of the marketing effort involves anticipating likely responses to new product concepts and using this information to design the product and the way in which it is launched and marketed. This process of analysis builds upon knowledge about various sources of what Thomas calls market friction.

Buyer behavior is a complex subject but there are several key guidelines which emerge to help shape market development of a new product. The first is the underlying process of adoption of something new; typically this involves a sequence of awareness, interest, trial evaluation and adoption. Thus simply making people aware, via advertising etc of the existence of a new product, will not be sufficient; they need to be drawn into the process through the other stages. Converting awareness to Interest for example means forging a link between the new products concept and a personal need (whether real or induced via advertising).

Successful implementation of internal (process) innovations also requires skilled change management. This effectively is a variation on the marketing principles outlined above and stress communication, involvement and intervention (via training etc) to minimize resistance to change – again essentially analogous to Thomas’s concept of market friction,

Understanding user needs has always been a critical determinant of innovation success and one way of achieving this is by bringing users into the loop at a much earlier stage. Early involvement and allowing them to pay an active role in the innovation process leads to better adoption and higher quality innovation. It is effectively the analogue of the early set to tools for simulation and exploration of alternative options there is growing scope for such an approach.

Where there is a high degree of uncertainty – as is the case with discontinuous innovation conditions there is a particular need for adaptive strategies which stress on the co evolution of innovation with users, based on a series of probe and learn experimental approaches. The role here for early and active user involvement is critical.

Learning and re-innovations:

An inevitable outcome of the launch of an innovation is the creation of new stimuli for restarting the cycle. If the product / service offering or process change fails, this offers valuable information about what to change for next time. A more common scenario is what Rothwell and Gardiner call re-innovation essentially building upon early success but improving the next generation with revised and refined features . In some cases where the underlying design is sufficiently robust it is possible to stretch and re innovate over many years and models.

Source: Managing Innovation